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Greater Washington DC

posted Jan 12, 2010, 6:34 AM by Quoc-Anh Vuong   [ updated Feb 2, 2010, 10:02 AM ]
This year long cold winter makes me itching to venture outside whenever there is sun outside. We jump on the chance of a nice sunny day whenever we can, and this is no further from the truth of the last Saturday. We decided to "Do The DC", visiting new places just because it was a nice, sunny day. We have been here more than 15 years, 15 minutes away from DC and still there are so many great places that we had never visit. A quick search on the internet discloses a long list of places, and we picked out three: The National Archives, the National Building Museum, and Ben's Chili Bowl.

We knew that we have to fight with the tourists for the parking space in DC, and it's better chance if we can get there before they do. Before 10AM, our chance of parking right in front of National Archives building is pretty high, but it's sharply reduced to almost nothing right after the 10AM mark; as if the tourist had prearranged to gather in DC at that magic time mark.
We woke up early, took care of the breakfast, and head out of the house; but unfortunately it was 10:30AM when we crossed the Memorial Bridge. It took us 15 minutes circling around the museum before we found a paid-meter parking space. I am glad that the meter takes credit card, because after scraping the car's coins holder, we found only 3-quarters. Finally I had a chance to use the $20-Rebate Visa card. The meter prints out little ticket for us to place on the dashboard and we were on our way to the Archives building. It was still a cold morning, but it did not bother us that much because we were all prepared with thick jackets. The entrance is at the left of the steps, and the line was not that long. We went through the security scanning, and started our venture.

We started the tour looking at 300-year-old documents, examining old records, and listening to radio clips. We then ended up at the Rotunda hall. It's a magnificent hall. It's an vast opening, circular hall. Beautiful paintings cover the wall & ceiling. I've seen the Rotunda hall picture at the National Archives' website (on the left), and was expecting of similar image; but the hall is much darker. I do not blame them, because they have to turn off all the lights to preserve the 300-year-old documents.
Finished the tour, we used the elevator to go down to the exit level, and Bảo pointed out that the declaration of independent is imprinted on the massive elevator brass doors; quite impressive.

Even though we were hungry, but I persuade them to visit the National Building Museum first before break for lunch. Located around 2 miles away, we arrived at the museum without much difficulty. But we could not say the same for finding the parking space. After parking the car a block away, we then realized that the museum has its own parking lot, and we should have parked there; much closer! As soon as we walked through the entrance door, we were greeted with a grand, opening space. It even has a big water fountain inside.
The construction is pretty neat! It's a hollow 4-story rectangular building. The space in the middle opens up to public to use. Different groups were conducting different activities. There was a group of kids, playing construction with Lego bricks and soft blocks. We went up the next floor, examined the balcony, then the next level up, and finally all the way to the top level. It was quite a view looking down from inside the building.
We got out of the Building Museum around 1:30pm, and head straight to Ben's Chili Bowl. Could not believe it, there was a line all the way to the door, and it's almost 2pm! The place was packed, the Michael Jackson's music was blasting, and an army of people were taking order & serving the customers. We did not have to wait long for our turn, and we ordered the 3 cheese fries, 3 chili dogs, and one chili burger. The cost is a bit high but we wanted to try, so we kissed the $38 good bye. We found a table, and waited for the food to come. The walls are covered with celebrities and well known people around DC. Yes, this is the place Obama visited during his campaign in 2009, and yes we spotted Anthony Bourdain pictures. He has more pictures on the wall than the president. The cheese fries basket is huge, very tasty, but it also fill you up quickly; for it's dripping with oil and completely covered with thick coat of melted Cheddar cheese. I tried my best and still could not finish the fries.

"Now, let's do the numbers!". We gave National Archives a 7, National Building Museum an 8, and only a 6 to Ben's Chili Bowl. We went home and



We Do DC


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